Saturday, August 29, 2009

Merrily On Our Way To Nowhere In Particular

Growing up in Florida, Walt Disney World was a prominent fixture of my youth. Our family visited the day the Magic Kingdom theme park opened their doors on October 1, 1971--a particularly easy time to enjoy rides because as I remember it, there were bomb threats so some folks stayed home. Lucky us. The lines were never shorter than on this bright fall Florida day...

Besides my favorite E-ticket rides (those of you old enough will remember those) I loved Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Climbing aboard that funky car, heading off into the cool dark of the tunnel was a welcome respite from the sweltering summer days when we would re-visit the park in years to come.

I recently discovered that Disney World replaced Mr. Toad with Winnie the Pooh (as if we really need more of that rotund bear assaulting our senses). WINNIE THE POOH, for God's sake. My disappointment knows no bounds, but at least you can still visit Mr. Toad at the Disneyland park in Anaheim, California.

Lately life seems suspiciously similar to Mr. Toad's Wild ride, complete with twists and turns (and welcome respites) and loads of charming scenery. You just never know what's going to come at you next. But the entire time, you are safely strapped in a supportive vehicle riding on pre-determined tracks, so you are usually never really in any danger...unless of something happens to the ride itself.

Which reminds me of the time we took the kids to Disneyland and it was late at night when the older kids and their dad were on Big Thunder Mountain. The ride was halted for some reason, so they were temporarily stranded in the dark, and it was scary (there was screaming). But of course, when it was all over that unexpected delay actually contributed to the thrill factor. Go figure.

It reminds me of the Florida summer when relatives from Germany visited back in the 70's, and we were stranded at Bush Gardens, Tampa on an aerial gondola ride, high above the wild animals grazing below, for about half an hour of anxious sweating. Mutti--as we called my German grandmother--kept her cool by dabbing a cold, wet rag she pulled from a Ziploc-style bag of ice onto her wrists, presumably just for such emergencies. It was rather thrilling wondering what would happen if we plummeted onto the rhinos below. Would the fall kill us (likely)? Would the animals stampede and kill us? Would the heat do us in before the ride resumed? Seems the mind loves its drama.

And that is probably why Mr. Toad's Wild Ride remains one of my favorites -- the drama that never actually swallows you up. Which makes it an awful lot like Life.

Credit: photo courtesy of www.mouseplanet. com/guide


  1. "the drama that never actually swallows you up. Which makes it an awful lot like Life."

    Great lines.

    What? No more Mr. Toad's Wild Ride? How can they do that. I think the last time I visited Disneyland, they had replaced Swiss Family Robinson's house. Pained me deeply.

    Enjoying your blog.

  2. Thank you! Swiss Family Robinson is gone? No way! I remember making my way across the wooden bridge up high...why are they getting rid of all the good stuff? But I do believe you can still see Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland. Apparently they aren't as traitorous as Disney World...